PH Life Feels Like Residing in a Waiting Room

PH Life Feels Like Residing in a Waiting Room

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I get anxious just thinking about what it’s like sitting in a waiting room at a doctor’s office. In waiting rooms, I pretend to keep myself occupied and distracted with just about anything. I mindlessly flip through hundreds of pictures on Pinterest or “read” the celebrity news from the outdated magazines that are in front of me. I can look like I’m busy on my phone and may appear calm and collected, but I’m far from it.

The anticipation in waiting rooms is enough to blast my anxiety into a spiral. I hunt for every possible distraction just to keep from staring at the clock’s evidence of slowly dragging time.

The most challenging feeling during this waiting? Worry over the unknown. Once the receptionist finally calls my name, countless what-ifs await me on the other side of the office walls. I obsess over the things that could happen. This type of anxiety is difficult to break free from. I’ve grown accustomed to such thoughts and feelings.

When I was younger, my anxieties and worries about doctor’s appointments had some type of end. Once appointments finished, a weight lifted from my shoulders. I could go about my days before my next appointment without worrying much about what came next.

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As I got older and doctors diagnosed me with more conditions like pulmonary hypertension, a lot of that changed for me. Most of the past few years have aroused the same worrisome emotions felt in a waiting room. Having a chronic illness that demands extreme care and attention makes me dread the next upcoming “thing” waiting around the corner, whether it’s a test, procedure, surgery, or a simple follow-up appointment. I’m in a constant state of anticipation of what’s to come.

Waiting for the next “thing” to happen makes me anxious, worried, and frustrated. The difference between my current experience and childhood is that leaving the doctor’s office doesn’t mean the worries are put on hold. When I leave the doctor’s office, I know the space between then and the next appointment will be eventful for my health.

When life feels like a waiting room, I lose touch with reality. My worries keep me from doing things I really want to do. I become sharply aware of my health’s state. That forces me to ponder my future and all that it holds obsessively. The bottled anticipation and worries invade my brain, and “the next thing” is all I can think about.

There are still times when the “wait” feels too much for me to handle. I am now able to notice when the stress begins building up so I can guide my mind to a better place before worries escalate out of my control. I have learned that anticipating something and being nervous about an upcoming life event is “normal.” It’s not in my best interest to isolate myself to the point where I can only think about what I anticipate. It’s important to stay “in the moment” as much as possible to live each day instead of only staring down a clock.

When life feels like a waiting room, it’s helpful to plan something to look forward to during the week, especially if it’s hard to keep my mind off what I’m “waiting” on. Even if I don’t have the energy to go out, ordering something online that I’m looking forward to, renting a movie and planning a movie night, and making small goals for myself during the week keeps me focused on the here and now instead of what’s to come.

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Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.

I am a 27 year old from the smallest state in the US, Rhode Island. I manage multiple chronic conditions, some are visible illnesses thanks to my oxygen I carry around, but most are invisible illnesses. I hope my posts “Recharged and Rewired” will show those reading that just because I need oxygen charged daily and my body is wired a little differently, doesn’t mean I can’t be the best version of myself every day!
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I am a 27 year old from the smallest state in the US, Rhode Island. I manage multiple chronic conditions, some are visible illnesses thanks to my oxygen I carry around, but most are invisible illnesses. I hope my posts “Recharged and Rewired” will show those reading that just because I need oxygen charged daily and my body is wired a little differently, doesn’t mean I can’t be the best version of myself every day!

12 comments

  1. Regina Bean says:

    I’m glad you are getting these articles out so others that are experiencing similar symptoms can explain to others by having them read it as well

  2. Linda Brandt says:

    Thank you Brittany for the nice article about your waiting room experiences. I can relate to some of them but I’ve found that the time spent there, lately, has been pretty short and my visit with my Doc. even shorter. I try to come prepared with a list of questions or matters I’d would like to discuss, but we either run out of time or I freeze up and forget about it.
    I have put off scheduling an RHC which my PH Doc asked me about. I was all for having it done after I completed four other ph tests and found they were’nt so bad. Of course, what they find is another matter entirely. And, what’s in the future as regards treatment with those drugs. Good luck to you Brittany and all the other ph patients. Hope research finds a cure for this disease.

    • Brittany Foster says:

      Hi Linda,
      Thank you for taking the time to read the article. I know that getting a RHC can be extremely scary and the unknown of what they are going to find and tell you is even scarier. Heck, getting treatment is scary too. But I would really recommend reaching out to your doctor or maybe even a nurse in the office that you trust and letting them know of your fears and worries about this. Being honest and open and communicating is really key to getting good quality care and making sure they aren’t just brushing your worries to the side and not taking that into consideration. The RHC is something that will help them tell the best treatments to use for you and something that is ultimately going to hopefully HELP you even though the process feels long and daunting at times. Keeping fighting this thing !

  3. Ted Smith says:

    the article, PH is like being in a drs. waiting room, i can certainly relate to. i was diagnosed 10yrs ago. it has been like waiting for the other shoe to drop. the article explains it better than i ever could. i am now 75 yrs. old. there have been lots of crooks and turns in that 10yrs. i attribute my survival to prays and good medicine (drs.) i try to make the best of it and enjoy life. i have a very strong faith in jesus christ. i know he has brought this far and will take me home when the time comes…….

    • Brittany Foster says:

      Hi Ted,
      Thank you for the comment on my post. I’m glad that when you read it you can find that you relate to it and can hopefully help to express and identify what you feel. I wish you the best health possible ! You certainly seem like you have a positive attitude and sometimes remembering that positive spirit and finding it when you’re feeling down is half the battle !

  4. Your article is like my life “canned”! I appreciate you putting it on paper so I can know I’m not alone. 16 years ago when I was first diagnosed, there was no treatment but warfarin. Mine is CTEPH so all the new meds don’t work for me. I was given 2 years to live. With all the advancement in treatment as you can see “I’m still here!”

    • Brittany Foster says:

      I’m so glad you are STILL HERE!! That is amazing. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I write them especially for those who feel the same way. Sometimes reading it in someone else’s words can be a sigh of relief to know “wow somebody gets it!” Glad this column resonated with you.

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